It has come to light that up to 500,000 hens in the UK are still being kept in battery cages, despite the new EU ban which came into force on 1 January 2012.

The EU Welfare of Laying Hens Directive prohibits the use of conventional battery cages, and while the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has embarked on a bid to challenge the UK government on its refusal to ban imports of illegally-produced battery cage eggs and egg products, the news that up to half a million eggs in the UK could still be illegal has angered those in the industry that have complied with the new rules.

Ian Jones, vice-chairman of British Lion Egg Processors, said the news brings the whole egg industry into disrepute. “It is not British Lion Egg producing farms which aren’t not compliant, but it is still a huge disappointment, and is letting down the whole UK egg industry.

“We are confident and can guarantee that British Lion Egg products are compliant,” he added.

The BEIC has also confirmed that all British Lion cage flocks were compliant with the EU Welfare of Laying Hens Directive.

Andrew Parker, chairman, BEIC, said: “We are disgusted that these few producers are still using banned barren battery cages. It is illegal and grossly unfair on the vast majority of UK producers who have invested £400m in ensuring they meet the new standards on time.”